The United Way of Greater Toledo kicks off its annual campaign today by announcing an increase in its goal for this year's fund-raising campaign.
Organizers of the 2011 campaign hope to raise $13.8 million, up from last year's goal of $13.3 million and the drive's final intake of $13.4 million. Campaign Manager Tom Manahan, president of the Lathrop Co., called the goal aggressive, but attainable.
"The need in the community continues to be huge," he said.
The United Way has turned its focus recently toward education initiatives, and much of the money generated by the fund-raising campaign will go to those programs, United Way President Bill Kitson said.
In May, Toledo Public Schools and the United Way announced a "schools as community hubs" program, in which TPS schools will house nonprofit groups that provide services such as medical and dental care and mental health and social services. The United Way is paying for the implementation and housing of the programs at two pilot schools.
The United Way also works with TPS on a program called social emotional learning, which focuses on such things as student behavior, school climate, and parental approaches to boost academic performance.
In addition, the organization received an approximately $260,000 AmeriCorps grant, part of which helps pay for graduation coaches at schools, though the grant requires the United Way to match the funds.
The narrowing of focus is an attempt to increase impact during tight fiscal times, Mr. Kitson said.
"We used to spray it out to lots of groups," he said. "What we really need to do today is we have to target and focus and get to the root causes."
A major focus of this year's campaign will be on coupling financial commitments with volunteering. For example, the United Way hopes to sign up 5,000 volunteers over the next three years to read to and tutor students at Toledo schools.
During the United Way's "Days of Caring" kickoff events, more than 1,500 people signed up to volunteer for causes.
The volunteer drives have two benefits, Mr. Kitson said. First is the direct impact in the community. But those who volunteer also see struggles firsthand, and are more inclined to support Toledo charities.
"The people that volunteer see the problem," Mr. Manahan said.
There are two donation match programs this year, including an education match, where any gift of $100 or more earmarked for education initiatives will be matched by Lathrop and the SSOE Group, up to $50,000.
The United Way serves Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa counties.
Contact Nolan Rosenkrans at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6086.